Finance Ministry Fuelling Crisis In Nigeria’s Textile Industry,Says Union



Textile workers 3Despite the efforts by Nigerian government and the textile workers’ union to revive the textile industry, crisis still lingers.This was disclosed at the end of  a 3-Day Workshop for union organizers and self-employed tailors and small scale garment makers organised by the National Union Of Textile Garment & Tailoring Workers Of Nigeria (NUTGTWN) in collaboration with Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (Fes) held from Wednesday 3rd – Friday 5th September 2014 at Michael Imoudu National Institute Of Labour Studies (Minils) Ilorin, Kwara State.The union blames Nigeria’s Finance Ministry for the crisis.

Part of the  communiqué said ,“There is a crisis in the textile industry due to huge backlog of Negotiable Duty Credit certificates (NDCC) accumulated over last two years. This has been caused by an arbitrary suspension imposed by the Federal Ministry of Finance on utilisation of the certificates, issued by the same ministry, for duty payment. Textile manufacturers who exported their goods by factoring the grant in their price are facing a severe liquidity crisis.”

The union also slammed what it described as the denial of the rights of workers to organize through obnoxious practices. “ These violations include increasing resort to unfair labour practices such as outsourcing, contract work and insertion of non-union clause in contract of employment, harassment of trade union officials.”

Read the full text of the communiqué below:

COMMUNIQUE ISSUED AT THE END OF A 3-DAY WORKSHOP FOR UNION ORGANIZERS AND SELF-EMPLOYED TAILORS AND SMALL SCALE GARMENT MAKERS ORGANISED BY THE NATIONAL UNION OF TEXTILE GARMENT & TAILORING WORKERS OF NIGERIA (NUTGTWN) IN COLLABORATION WITH FRIEDRICH EBERT STIFTUNG (FES) HELD FROM WEDNESDAY 3RD – FRIDAY 5TH SEPTEMBER 2014 AT MICHAEL IMOUDU NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF LABOUR STUDIES (MINILS) ILORIN, KWARA STATE

INTRODUCTION

A 3-day Workshop for Trade Union Organisers and Self-employed tailors and small scale garment makers was organised by the National Union of Textile, Garment and Tailoring Workers of Nigeria (NUTGTWN) in collaboration with Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES) from Wednesday 3rd to Friday 5th September, 2014 at the Michael Imoudu National Institute of Labour Studies (MINILS), Ilorin, Kwara State. More than 50 participants were drawn the textile, garment and tailoring workers union including members from the informal sector made up of self-employed tailors and small scale garment makers across the States namely Kwara, Ogun, Lagos, Kebbi, Katsina, Delta, Rivers, Benue, Imo, Edo and Cross River. Participants also came from co-affiliates of IndustriALL Global Union in Nigeria namely Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) and Chemical and Non-Metallic Products Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (CANMPSSA).

THEME/OBJECTIVES

The theme of the workshop is CAPACITY AND SKILL DEVELOPMENT FOR TRADE UNION ORGANISERS. The Workshop provided the platform for participants to interact and reflect on the changing dynamics at work and imperative of refocusing union organizing, learn new ideas and skill for effective organizing of workers in formal employment and those who are self-employed. The workshop also provided opportunity to learn new ideas and strategies for effective union organising, develop new orientation that is supportive of collaborative work on organizing among trade unions in Nigeria.

TOPICS/RESOURCE FELLOWS

Topics covered at the 3-day workshop include;

• Organsing as a core function of a Trade Union;

• Reflections on the Changing Situations at Work/Understanding Changing Dynamics at Work;

• Organising as a tool for Building Union Power;

• Communication Skills for Trade Union Organisers;

• Organising Skills: Trade Union Campaigns;

• Developing Ideas and Strategies to Organise new Members (formal and informal sectors);

• The Role of Trade Union Organisers in the Context of Change;

Resource persons include the General Secretary of the Union and Vice President of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Comrade Issa Aremu, NPOM, mni, Ag. Deputy General Secretary, Education/Research, NUTGTWN, Mr. Ismail Bello, Dr. Tajudeen Akanji, Associate Professor of Workplace Relations, University of Ibadan among others.

OPENING

The Workshop was declared open by the President of the National Union of Textile Garment and Tailoring Workers of Nigeria (NUTGTWN), Comrade Oladele Hunsu. Distinguished Guests include the General Secretary of National Union of Textile Garment and Tailoring Workers of Nigeria (NUTGTWN), Comrade Issa Aremu, NPOM, mni who is also the Vice President of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), the Chairman, NLC Kwara State Council, Comrade Faruk Akanbi represented by the Vice Chairman, Comrade Bamidele P. Okogbe, Chairman, Trade Union Congress (TUC), Kwara State Council, Comrade Olumoh Kolawole, The Comptroller of Labour, Kwara State, Mr. Kola Babaloloa; Special Adviser to the Governor of Kwara State on Labour, Comrade Bisi Fakoyade represented by Mr. Yakub Kamarudeen, the Director General, Michael Imoudu National Institute for Labour Studies (MINILS), Dr. John Olarewaju represented by Director of Trade Union Education, MINILS, Dr. Onaeko F.B. and the representative of FES Nigeria, Mrs. Juliana Anosike. Special Guest of Honour was Hon. Justice Mustapha Akanbi, CFR retired President of the Nigerian Court of Appeal who also presented certificates to participants at the end of the workshop.

THE WORKSHOP RESOLVED AS FOLLOWS:

1. ORGANISING AS A CORE FUNCTION OF TRADE UNIONS

Noted that union organising is all about workers coming together to collectively solve problems encountered at their workplaces. It is a process by which trade unions canvas, recruit, consolidate, seek recognition for, formalize into a unionized group, negotiate for, and manage as a bargaining unit. Organizing remains a core trade union activity. Without vibrant consistent organizing, a trade union is unlikely to grow, become economically sound and offer its membership good quality services and protection.

Further noted that trade union organising covers a broad spectrum of activities including but not limited to the following; Education, Negotiation, Building Structures, Policy Advocacy and Campaigns.

Recognised that discrimination (gender, ethnic, religion), lack of respect for human dignity, low wages, denial of benefits, inhuman treatment by supervisors, exclusion from decision making, unsafe working conditions, casualisation/outsourcing, indiscriminate termination of employment and other unfair labour practices by employers are some of the problems workers frequently confront at work.

Noted that the right to organise as enshrined in section 40 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and reaffirmed in several aspects of our Labour Laws and further strengthened by ILO Conventions 87 and 98 on the Right to Freedom of Association and Protection of right to Organise; Right to Organise and Collective Bargaining are critical to trade union organising.

Concerned that these laws and conventions are increasingly violated with impunity by employers particularly in the private sector as workers are denied the right to organise. These violations include increasing resort to unfair labour practices such as outsourcing, contract work and insertion of non-union clause in contract of employment, harassment of trade union officials.

Worried that some employers like Sino PP Limited Kano even engaged in open disregard for the law by refusing to honour the judgement of the National Industrial Court (NIC) in favour of union after 10 years of laborious struggle to organise workers in the factory.

Commended the union’s effort, commitment and resilience in the area of organizing and resolved to do all that is necessary to further strengthen union organizing and assert the right of workers to join the union.

Expressed delighted that the union has moved beyond organizing the workers to consistent struggles to save the industry. It is this union’s advocacy that led to some government interventions and subsequent reopening of some closed textile mills like United Nigeria Textile Limited (UNTL) Kaduna.

2. ORGANIZE TO REVIVE AND SAVE THE INDUSTRY

Noted that union cannot successfully organize if there is no production. Union’s organizing effort should go beyond organizing workers in the factory and organizing the unorganized to also include organizing ways to save the industry.

Commended the Federal government for the intervention fund for the textile industry. But further noted that financing is just one out of the numerous challenges facing the textile industry in particular and manufacturing industries in Nigeria. Other key problems are infrastructural inadequacy, raw materials, electricity supply, smuggling, counterfeiting and faking among others which need to be urgently addressed by the Government.

3. THE NIGERIAN TEXTILE INDUSTRY

Noted that the performance of the Nigerian textile industry remained at low ebb in the first half of 2014 due to lack of an enabling environment and inconsistency in government policy. There are 25 textile mills employing about 24,000 workers. The capacity utilisation in the industry remains below 50% and the growth has been stagnant since 2012. The government had talked about a new textile policy in February 2013 however there has been no progress. Unless effective steps are taken by the government to revive the industry, gains achieved in 2010 will be lost and result in job losses, thus aggravating the unemployment situation.

Influx of smuggled goods

Smuggled occupy over 90% of the market. It is estimated that Nigeria ‘imported’ N 300 billion worth of textiles and garments annually, most of which are illegally imported without paying any duties and taxes. The total amount of revenue loss on account of customs duty and VAT on this volume is estimated at N 75 billion. Such rampant evasion of taxes lost to smuggling when the government is going from pillar to post to mobilise revenue should be an eye opener.

Export Expansion Grant

There is a crisis in the textile industry due to huge backlog of Negotiable Duty Credit certificates (NDCC) accumulated over last two years. This has been caused by an arbitrary suspension imposed by the Federal Ministry of Finance on utilisation of the certificates, issued by the same ministry, for duty payment. Textile manufacturers who exported their goods by factoring the grant in their price are facing a severe liquidity crisis.

CTG loan from BOI

Most textile companies availed the Cotton Textile Garment (CTG) loan from BOI since 2010. The tenure of the loan matures in 2016. The textile companies are finding it difficult to pay the instalments due to low capacity utilisation and liquidity crisis caused by above problems and had appealed to the BOI for extension of the repayment period by ten years and flexibility to redeem the EEG certificates in lieu of loan instalment.

High cost of production

Cost of manufacturing textiles in Nigeria is high which allows room for cheap foreign goods to be imported. In particular the cost of energy is high. The price of gas was increased by 15% from January 2014 and price of black oil remains high due to scarcity. Textile industry deserves concessional pricing like other industries such as cement however government response has been lukewarm.

New Textile Policy

Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade & Investment has been working on a new textile policy, under the Nigerian Industrial Revolution Plan (NIRP) which is supposed to help in the revival of the sector. A stakeholder workshop was held at Abuja in Feb 2013. Unfortunately, nothing has been heard about it for the last one year.

Made in Nigeria

There is a lack of patronage of made in Nigeria textiles due to lack of an effective policy enforcement. Most government ministries and agencies such as police, customs, immigration and army still prefer to use imported fabrics rather than source locally.

Experience of other sub-Saharan African countries- Lessons for Nigeria Other African countries have been highly supportive to their textile industry to improve their competitiveness. Nigeria should learn from their experience.

Ethiopia has attracted FDI in the textile & garment industry in recent years. Employment has risen to 28,000

Ivory Coast has one large textile mill however government has taken effective steps to check imported counterfeit textiles to protect local industry

Ghana has three large textile mills and allows import of all raw materials, dyes & chemicals and spare parts at 0% duty Kenya continues to be a hub for readymade garment exports

4. PRODUCTIVITY IS THE KEY

The Workshop stated that Nigeria should urgently replace corruption agenda with development agenda.

Commended President Goodluck Jonathan for promoting productivity awareness in the country, by reviving the railways to move mass of people and goods at cheaper rates and for reforming the power sector among others. All this transformation efforts can lower the costs of production and make our industry competitive.

5. CRUDE OIL THEFT

Acknowledged the commendable efforts of the Federal government to reduce the rate of crude oil theft in Nigeria. However noted that as significant as this reduction is, it is still scandalous and unacceptable that the nation loses much crude oil to theft particular for a country that borrows money to meet urgent security and health challenges. Billions of money lost through crude oil theft certainly cannot be available for electricity, building industries, road, hospitals, schools, fighting insurgency and combating the spread of Ebola and other curable diseases like Malaria, polio, etc. Therefore what Nigeria and Nigerians desire is total zero-tolerance to oil theft of any kind.

6. DEMOCRACY ON TRIAL

Noted that Trade unions are democratic institutions. Trade unions cannot sufficiently carry out their core trade union functions if there is no sustained democracy.

Acknowledged the fact that Nigeria has made progress in democratic renewal. However this democracy needs quality control. The nation’s is on trial.

Therefore called on Nigerian politicians to put the interest of the country first and avoid unnecessary quarrels and statements capable of undermining the progress we have made in our democratic experience.

7. WE MUST PUT AN END TO BUTTERFLY POLITICS

Noted that the current tension in the political landscape is as a result of uncritical carpet crossing by politicians.

Worried that Political parties have sadly become hired vehicles to move from pillars to posts in a desperate move to be in office for power and money rather than for public service. Defections, shameless carpet crossing, exchange of diatribes and abuses by politicians and non-issue based statements have become the order of the day. We must reinvent the political parties such that they are concerned with critical development challenges of our times such as insecurity, re industrialization and poverty eradication. Politicians must stand for policies and programmes and stop falling for anything that only puts them in power even when they are under developing the country.

8. NATIONAL SECURITY

Reaffirmed the need for urgent action to address the current intolerable state of insecurity in Nigeria. Called on President Goodluck Jonathan to address the country through the National Assembly on the state of the nation and the road map on addressing insurgency and insecurity in Nigeria. Nigerians need presidential assurance about the unity of our great country. The President should offer leadership for all Nigerians regardless of their callings for a national resistance against the invasion of our country.

Also called on the members of the National Assembly to demonstrate national sensibility and quickly return back from their break to address the twin crisis of Ebola epidemic and insurgency in the North East. Recent development tasks the sense of responsibility and accountability of all elected officials to the people of Nigeria.

Called on the security agencies particularly the Military to rise up to defend effectively the nation’s territorial integrity. We must return back to the good old days Nigeria’s territorial integrity was effectively defended with extended support to other African countries. President Goodluck Jonathan must implement the National Conference report as it affects national security especially in appointing key critical security positions based on merit and sense of patriotism.

9. EBOLA EPIDEMIC

Commended the efforts and measures so far taken by the Federal and all State governments to curtail the spread of Ebola disease in Nigeria. Noted that it is not enough for President Goodluck Jonathan to declare Ebola a national emergency.

Called on the President to also address the nation through the National Assembly on the issue of Ebola and other diseases and what the administration is doing to curb its spread in Nigeria.

Noted it is a continental and regional shame that President Barack Obama of United States of America is the one addressing West Africans on the dreaded Ebola virus. This shows absence of leadership in Africa.

Noted that the first victims of Ebola are workers. Therefore commended the Union for organising series of workshops to enlighten members about the disease and ways to prevent it.

10. APPRECIATION

Expressed appreciation to FES headed by the Country Resident Representative, Mrs. Seija Sturies for the collaborative support to the Workshop. Commended FES for the long passion and commitment for organizing and support for workers education.

Oladele Hunsu Issa Aremu, NPOM, mni

PRESIDENT GENERAL SECRETARY